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President Trump tweeted Thursday claiming he had never said to “give teachers guns” — while in the very same tweet suggested the government “look at the possibility of giving 'concealed guns to gun adept teachers.'”
Trump's comments came the morning after an emotional listening session at the White House with students and parents from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, the site of a mass shooting that left 17 dead on Valentine's Day.
The tweets followed backlash from local law enforcement, students, and parents to the proposal, many of whom have organized themselves into a movement called “Never Again” that advocates for gun control measures.
But Trump appeared to go all-in on the idea on Thursday, saying it was the solution to the problem. “ATTACKS WOULD END!” he said.
The president also tweeted that a “gun free” school is a “magnet for bad people,” and that armed teachers could “immediately fire back if a savage sicko came to a school with bad intentions.”
Trump asked at the White House who in the room liked the idea of arming teachers Wednesday, and just a handful of people responded positively. Many more emphatically raised their hands when he asked who felt “strongly against it.”
In addition to arguing for concealed carry at the White House event, the president mentioned increasing background checks and focusing on the mental health of gun buyers.
On TV, radio, and in op-eds across the country, students, parents, and experts argued against arming teachers in classrooms.
Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel, the local law enforcement official for Stoneman high school, said during a CNN town hall on Wednesday night that the answer was gun control restrictions rather than more guns. Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter was killed in the attack, also said the “guns were the factor in the hunting of our kids in the school this week.”
Broward County Public Schools superintendent Robert Runcie said, “'We don't need to put guns in the hands of teachers.”
At the CNN town hall, a teacher at Stoneman — who said she supported the Second Amendment and had voted for Trump — told Sen. Marco Rubio that “a lot of the flack I've been getting back from my friends and from a lot of other people that are around the world is, 'the answer to the problem is to arm teachers.'”
“When I had those hundreds of terrified children that were running at me… My question is, am I supposed to get law enforcement training on top of educating these children on how to be these eloquent speakers that are coming up and presenting issues to you?” the teacher asked. “Am I supposed to have a kevlar vest and strap it to my leg or put it in my desk? How am I supposed to go on that way?”
“I don't support that,” the senator responded.
Nicole Hockley, whose six-year-old son Dylan died at the shooting at Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, said that rather than arming teachers with firearms, she “would rather arm them with the knowledge of how to prevent these acts from happening in the first place.”
In addition to considering a narrow, National Rifle Association–backed, bipartisan bill to reinforce the background check system now before Congress, Trump has called on the Department of Justice to ban “bump stocks” (which increase the lethality of certain weapons), but it’s unclear if the agency would have the authority to enforce that regulation.
Trump has also said he would consider raising the minimum age for buying semiautomatic weapons, and reinforced that Thursday.
Trump himself tweeted during the 2016 campaign that he did not want “guns in classrooms.”